Good morning, everyone! We’re now in the first week of November. That means there are just four days to go before In A Greater Reality goes live in online bookstores. As I mentioned before, it is my first science fiction novel. It was great fun to research and write it, given how much technology fascinates me. Everyday life is mostly bleh, in my opinion. That’s why I enjoy reading and writing sci-fi and fantasy.
Today, I’m posting a second sneak peek. This one gives a look at Frank Polansky’s interactions with his friends and family. It was crucial to show this in the book, to give you all an idea why Frank dislikes his life. He doesn’t shun his friends, though. Frank loves them, but wishes they all lived in a better world. Little does he know how careful one must be when wishing for something. Here it is:
* * *
The rest of the weekdays passed with almost nothing worthy of mention. That was the usual for Frank’s life. He went through the same motions each day, with few variations. The only fun times Frank spent were with his friends. He felt lucky to have them. Otherwise, Harleysville would seem even drearier to live in. Frank supposed life in the town was fine. Almost everyone knew one another, so they were all friendly.
Riding his electric cycle and playing videogames were among the few things Frank enjoyed. Feeling the wind made Frank feel the sort of freedom he didn’t have. At least that was a good thing about having a motor bike instead of a car. His cycle had been a bargain for all the things it could do. It was one of the few possessions Frank was proud of.
After his work shift ended, Frank hopped on his cycle. He was eager to get back home to meet with his friends. Frank always looked forward to accompanying them to the city. They had loads of fun there.
When Frank got to his apartment, he pulled his phone from his pocket. He placed a call to Courtney.
“Hi, sister,” Frank said when the other line picked up.
“I want to know if you’re coming with me and my friends. Skybound is playing today.”
Frank and Courtney had talked about the trip a few days ago. Courtney hadn’t been sure she could go, so she asked Frank to let her think about it.
“I’m going with you after all. Priscilla wanted me to go shopping with her. She canceled at the last minute.”
Priscilla was Courtney’s best friend. She attended Philadelphia University.
“Good. See you in a moment, then.”
Frank ended the call, and then walked to his bedroom. He wanted to get a quick shower before the trip.
Several minutes later, Frank was on his computer. He was killing some time by studying electronics. Frank thought himself pretty good at it. He dreamed of becoming a hardware engineer. Despite being quite smart, Frank thought it took more to get a good job.
An AI voice alerted Frank to his friends’ arrival. That kind of system was commonplace. They managed homes, computers, mobile phones, and cars. Apartments didn’t have AIs because it wasn’t a bbbbguarantee that the tenants would have the same one. Frank installed the AI he already owned, which came with his phone.
“Mr. Polansky, you have a visitor.”
Frank put on his shoes and went to answer the door. Jackie and Logan stood outside.
“Hi!” said Jackie in a rather shy manner. She wasn’t as extroverted as the rest of their friends. Despite that, Jackie stood out in a crowd. Most of her dark brown hair fell past her shoulders. Jackie kept part of the right side of her head cropped short. A few violet highlights ran through the left side. Some people criticized Jackie for the look, but her friends thought nothing of it.
“Hi, Jackie,” Frank replied. He hugged her, and then shook hands with Logan.
“How’s life treating you?” Logan asked.
“The same as usual. You know this town has nothing worth shredding rubber for.”
“No wonder your cycle has been using the same tires forever.”
Jackie and Frank laughed together.
“Let’s go now. Courtney stayed behind to watch the car. We don’t want to keep her waiting,” said Logan.
Frank locked his door. He then followed his friends to the parking lot. Courtney was waiting for them, leaning against the side of the SUV.
“Good afternoon, Frank,” Courtney said. They hugged each other.
“Burning to go, people?” Logan asked. Everyone in the group nodded. “Let’s kick it, then.”
Philadelphia was less than forty miles southeast of Harleysville. It took almost fifty minutes to get there via the freeway. If a magnet train were available, the trip would take only twelve minutes. Among other things, that was one of the perks Harleysville lacked that other cities had. That was another reason why Frank couldn’t wait to move. He didn’t much care for trains, but his town really left a lot to be desired.
Half an hour later, Logan’s SUV was approaching the Java Wars. It was the group’s favorite club.
“Anyone hungry?” he asked. Jackie and Frank raised their hands.
“I already ate, but could use a snack now,” the former said. Frank looked at her.
“I brought some chocolate-covered raisins. You can have some if you’d like.”
“Thanks,” Jackie said. Frank handed her a bag, and then looked at Courtney. She thanked him, helping herself to some of the raisins.
At a point in the trip, Frank heard a familiar voice on the radio. Logan glanced at it, and then looked at Frank.
“Your favorite girl is on the air now.”
Frank chuckled. He remembered the first time he laid eyes on Marjorie Howell. She was the PR woman for a fitness startup in Philadelphia. Marjorie’s uncle was the owner. Of course, having modest beauty also helped in becoming known. Right now, she was on a commercial advertising the startup.
“She is really pretty,” Courtney said. Frank went a little red. He looked over at Jackie. She pasted on a smile, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes.
Logan pulled into the parking lot surrounding the Java Wars club. He found a spot and parked the SUV.
“We’re here, guys.”
They all stepped out of the van. Logan locked the SUV, and then led the group toward the club.
The Java Wars building had an odd geometric sort of shape. Parts of the façade were charcoal gray, and the others were magenta. From the bottom, blue and magenta lights illuminated the side of the building. The sight was particularly stunning at night.
A short line had formed outside the club’s entrance. There was a bouncer standing guard. He had a small device that accepted app payments. It sped up the process of getting inside. There was a line only because a popular group was playing that night.
After they all paid the fee, Frank’s group scanned the club for a table. They found one near the eastside corner.
“This one’s good,” Courtney said. It had a decent view of the dance floor and the stage.
Frank opened a chair for Jackie.
“Thank you,” she said. Next to them, Logan had opened a chair for Courtney. When all four of them sat down, a waiter approached.
“What would you like to drink tonight, gentlemen? And ladies,” he added.
The group debated about which drinks they wanted. When they made their decision, they told the waiter. He left to bring their orders.
“The show begins in a quarter hour,” Logan said. “Who’s dancing with who?”
“Frank will dance with me, right?” Jackie asked him. He couldn’t say no to her puppy eyes.
“Yep. Yeah, we’ll dance.”
Jackie beamed. Logan asked Courtney if she would dance with him. She nodded.
The waiter arrived with their drinks. The group thanked him. They chitchatted for a bit before getting ready to dance. Finally, the show began. The lights were dimmed, and everyone’s attention focused to the stage.
“They’re here,” Logan said. Skybound had just arrived. An announcer introduced the musicians. The dance floor slowly began to fill. After wishing the people in the club a great night, the band started playing.
“Let’s go,” Jackie said. She took Frank’s hand. The two joined the people on the dance floor. Strobe lights of three different colors were the only illumination now.
Jackie danced like a joyous girl. She didn’t like the band as much as Logan, but the kind of music was her favorite. Frank kept pace as they danced.
“Logan is making his dance partner nervous,” she said. Frank turned to where she was looking. Indeed, Courtney looked self-conscious. She didn’t dance much, but it was clear that she found Logan charming. It made Frank wonder why he was still single. Maybe Logan enjoyed not being tied to one woman yet.
“He never fails to get them,” Frank muttered. Jackie noticed his grin.
“No, he doesn’t.”
Frank and Jackie danced through the next three songs. She wanted to continue, but he felt tired.
“I need a restroom trip,” Frank said. “We can always dance at least once more before we leave.”
“Okay. Don’t take long,” she said. Frank liked to see Jackie smile.
After going to the restroom, Frank returned to his friends’ table. Logan was there already.
“Did you scare my sister away?”
“’Course not. I’m just taking a break. You?”
“The same. Where did Courtney go?”
“She said she needed a drink to ease her nerves. Your girl’s got plenty of energy, though. She’s still at it.”
“Yeah. Jackie can unravel when she has the mood.”
Logan laughed. They knew that Jackie had been in the track team in high school. It was her attempt to become more popular, which worked a bit.
After talking for a bit, Logan stood up for another round on the dance floor. Frank toyed with his drink glass for a little while. He then searched for Jackie among the throng of people. She danced even if she had no partner. Just when Frank found her, someone walked up to his table. He looked up, seeing a young woman he didn’t recognize.
“Hi. I’m Shirley.”
“Frank,” he said. They shook hands.
“Would you like to dance with me?”
Frank thought about it for a second.
“All right. Let’s go.”
Shirley smiled. Frank took her hand and led them both to the dance floor. It wasn’t often he got asked to dance by a woman, so Frank couldn’t refuse. He was sure it wouldn’t bother Jackie. There was more than plenty of time for another dance with her.
Shirley wasn’t that good of a dancer, but she was pretty. Frank assumed she wasn’t older than twenty. It was a little young to be in a nightclub. Maybe a friend had snuck Shirley in.
“Are you from around here, Frank?”
“Ha. I wish, I wish. Someday, it’ll be true.”
“You enjoy being in Philadelphia?”
“It’s a hundred times better than where I come from. What about you?”
“I live over in Cherry Hill, but I have family here.”
Frank nodded. He and Shirley danced for another song before she excused herself.
“It was nice meeting you, Frank. I have to go now.”
“Good night, Shirley.”
Frank watched her walk toward the tables. Someone nudged him on the shoulder. He turned and saw Jackie.
“Are you too tired for one more dance?”
“No,” Frank said, trying to hide his surprise. “I’d like dancing with you.”
“Thanks,” Jackie said. They began dancing when the next song started.
“Are you enjoying the night?” she asked.
“I’m not sure. You seemed a little…not into it when you were at the table. I was about to walk over to you when that girl got there first.”
Frank didn’t reply to that. He wasn’t sure if Jackie was asking a question.
“Are you having fun?”
“Yeah,” Frank replied. “I’m in the city with my best friends. Why wouldn’t I be enjoying this night?”
Jackie’s expression turned questioning.
“I’m not as talkative as Priscilla, but I know you. I’ve been your friend for longer. Tell me what was on your head a moment ago.”
Frank hesitated for a bit. Jackie was right. It was hard for him to hide anything from her.
“I’m just a little frustrated that I haven’t made it yet. I make so little money. My sister and I have yet to achieve our dreams. I hate being stuck in the same boring town.”
“Do you want to get rid of me?”
“That’s not what I meant. I wouldn’t want you out of my life, Jackie. I just thought that we’d always be there for each other, no matter where we go.”
Jackie was pensive for a few seconds.
“I’d follow you to Mars if that’s what you wanted, Frank. Just don’t make too many assumptions about me. I may have other goals.”
“I don’t intend to keep you from them.”
A corner of Jackie’s lips turned up. She leaned forward and kissed Frank in the cheek.
“You’re amazing, Frank. Really.”
Frank wasn’t sure how to respond. He wasn’t that used to compliments. The two didn’t talk about anything else. After the song ended, Frank and Jackie returned to the table. Logan asked everyone if they were ready to leave. They would just have to wait for Courtney. She always wanted to stay later than the rest of them.
* * *
So, how was it? Did you all like this sneak peek? There isn’t long to wait for the rest, as In A Greater Reality will be published this Thursday. The book is currently on preorder at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple. You can find the links at this book’s official page. Simply use the menu above and hover your cursor over the “MY BOOKS” button.